SOUP (Soilless Culture Upgrade) is a collaborative research project exploring the synergy of machine vision and robotics in soilless tomato cultures, aiming in the on-time identification of diseases and the abolishment of additives through automated intervention.
 

SOUP (Soilless Culture Upgrade) is a collaborative research project exploring the synergy of machine vision and robotics in soilless tomato cultures, aiming in the on-time identification of diseases and the abolishment of additives through automated intervention.

About the Project

The problem: Tomato crops, even considered in a hydroponic environment, require continuous monitoring to prevent malnutrition or the spreading of diseases. The monitoring is carried out by the farmer and is largely based on his/ her experience to correctly identify the problem and treat the crop in time.

Project SOUP implements the treatment through a ternary approach:

icon research

Research

icon robotics

Robotics

icon optimisation

Optimization

WP1

Development of test cultures for the evaluation of the visual characteristics of diseases and malnutrition: Expert agriculturists develop separate crops that are artificially infected, at a different extent and at different plant-ages. The crops are monitored throughout their lifecycle to identify the visual characteristics of the plant linked to each of the associated parameters (progress of the disease, age).

WP2

Visual monitoring system comprising RGB and hyper spectral cameras: Machine learning methods will be employed for the identification of basic characteristics and the presence of a predetermined set of diseases.

WP3

Robotic system for localized intervention: A 6 DoF robotic arm will be integrated on a mobile platform enabling it to navigate in the corridors of the culture and in the direction of the plant's elevation. Visual servoing will be employed to direct the end-effector at the local level.

WP4

System integration and pilot testing: The disease identification system (WP2) and the on-site intervention system (WP3) will be integrated under WP4, to produce a functional prototype of the envisaged agriculture-support system. Access to the disease identification system and interaction with the intervention tools: (a) the mobile robot and (b) the hydroponics automation system will be realized through a dedicated User Interface. The system will be tested in the tomato plantations developed under WP1 and validated in cooperation with expert agriculturists.

WP5

Market & environmental impact analysis: Evaluation of the environmental footprint of the system and comparison of its actual performance with the current production model. Conduct a Life-Cycle Analysis for the complete system and its components, as well as with existing hydroponic units.

Glafcos Marine is the Project Coordinator.

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